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Simple Ways to Beautify Your Old Sofa

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

If your old sofa is a little worse for wear, don’t give up on it yet without trying to update its look. Even though you’ve had it for a few years, it doesn’t make much sense to drain your bank account to go out and buy a new one. Just because the fabric is worn and the cushions are droopy doesn't mean it's time to toss it away. You can easily give your old sofa a new upscale look with these simple DIY techniques.

Swap Out Throw Pillows

The easiest way to give it a makeover is to bring in different throw pillows. If you don’t have the cash to buy a bunch of new pillows, fix them up with stencils, appliques, new fabric or swap them from other pieces of furniture. Try this project by cutting pieces of textured or patterned fabric and sewing them onto solid pillows. Go online or hit up home decor retailers to find just the right pillows on sale that will fit your sofa style and the room’s decor.

Iron-on transfers are so easy to decorate pillow covers.

Iron-on transfers are so easy to decorate pillow covers.

Replace Sagging Cushions

When your sofa starts to look droopy it's time to restore the cushions. Don’t just try stuffing a bunch of polyester fill into the cushions; it will simply result in a lumpy mess. Remove the cushion cover and wrap the foam with polyester or cotton batting, or purchase new foam inserts. If you go to an upholstery shop you'll end up spending way to much. Search for online cushion sources that are economical and that get good reviews.

All you have to do is provide the seat and back cushion measurements. Next decide on the type of firmness. In a week or so you’ll have a comfortable, brand new looking sofa. If the back cushions are crushed and aren't attached to the sofa you can add extra fiber fill and create tufting with strong thread, buttons and an upholstery needle.

New seat foam inserts and DIY tufted back cushions makes it look like a brand new sofa.

New seat foam inserts and DIY tufted back cushions makes it look like a brand new sofa.

Change the Sofa Legs

Here’s another quick and easy way to give your current sofa a trendy look. The subtle change is quite effective just by switching out its old legs. Choose a different color, contour and different material. This will create a delicate or chunky look depending on the leg shape. Most new sofas give you the option of unscrewing the legs, which makes it a breeze. If you can’t find new replacements which coordinate with your sofa just paint the original legs for an easy-peasy facelift.

These new metal mid-century legs give this sofa a stylish look.

These new metal mid-century legs give this sofa a stylish look.

Dress It With a Slipcover

Over time sofa upholstery wears out in spots and will most likely end up with stains from dogs, kids, food and wine. If your sofa is still solid and comfy, don’t even think about buying a new one. Look into slipcovers that you can swap out based on your mood, color palette and room design. They can easily be removed, tossed in the wash and put back on before your guests arrive.

The variety of slipcovers range from affordable to fairly pricey but they’re still less expensive than having your sofa reupholstered. Several furniture retailers, such as Pottery Barn and IKEA offer custom tailored slipcovers for their specific models that are more expensive than one-piece versions.To find the right size for an inexpensive single slipcover take the sofa measurements from outside arm to outside arm and its height. Place the slipcover on the sofa following the instructions and tuck it in to create neat fit.

You can choose from tailored or budget-friendly single piece slipcovers.

You can choose from tailored or budget-friendly single piece slipcovers.

Add Nailhead Trim

Take your plain sofa from outdated to updated with nailhead trim. Adding the accents to your sofa can create a contemporary design. Nailhead trim is a chic furniture accessory that gives it sparkle, and it's pretty simple to do it yourself. Depending on the leather or fabric color choose from warm to cool tones that range from brass, brushed nickel, bronze, gold, silver or rubbed antique.

If you’re unsure where to apply the nailheads, take your time and determine the ideal placement. Classic nailhead outlines are typically along the base of the sofa and around the front curves of the arms. Before you start make sure there is a solid substructure to nail the upholstery tacks into place.

Nailhead trim can give virtually any sofa a trendy look.

Nailhead trim can give virtually any sofa a trendy look.

Bring in Drama

Add a dramatic accent wall in the room to create a contrast with your sofa fabric. This is a quick afternoon project that will make light colored upholstery pop against a dark wall. If your sofa is dark go the opposite direction and paint the walls in a light tone to make the sofa stand out.

For example, an emerald green velvet sofa becomes a prominent focal point against light sand or dove gray walls. Oatmeal linen upholstery can create a distinctive look paired with a dark gray or navy blue wall color.

An emerald green sofa against a soft gray backdrop becomes focal point in the room.

An emerald green sofa against a soft gray backdrop becomes focal point in the room.

Completely Change the Sofa Color

Most of us have yet to attempt to change the color of a sofa. This project might make you feel faint of heart. If your sofa is in somewhat good condition but the fabric is faded, it might be worth the risk. Look for fabric dyes and paints to revamp your old sofa and limp it along for a few more years. If your worn out custom slipcover is in desperate need of a color upgrade use regular fabric dye to give it a new lease on life.

Leather sofas eventually get dried out, cracked and worn. Believe it or not you can paint, stain or dye the leather upholstery. Several varieties are available in sprays, rub-on stains or liquid paints. Light colors will not completely cover dark leather, so go with a dark color for a successful result. The outcome is pretty amazing.

Spray dye changed the drab color of an old chenille sofa.

Spray dye changed the drab color of an old chenille sofa.

Additional Ways to Spruce Up Your Sofa

If your sofa is an expensive family heirloom you can have it reupholstered in new fabric. A professional upholsterer can cost a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars so it may not be terribly cost-effective.

Metal accents next to your sofa make it feel upscale. Brass and glass side tables and a matching bookcase give your sofa an expensive vibe.

Steam clean your sofa to remove layers of dirt, dust and grime that may have muted its colors and patterns. Rent a steam cleaning machine with a hand-held attachment from the hardware store, home center or grocery store.

Drape a decorative throw over the back of the sofa or on the seat cushions. Choose a complementary or coordinating color. For a fun look go with lively patterns of stripes, florals, paisleys or geometrics. Add a textural throw made from raw silk, velvet, chunky knit or faux fur.

Things to Update Your Sofa

  • Throw pillows
  • Foam cushions and batting
  • Heavy-duty thread, buttons and upholstery needle
  • Stylish sofa legs
  • Slipcover
  • Nailhead trim and a rubber mallet
  • Interior paint
  • Dye and paint for fabric and leather
  • Metallic accents
  • Steam machine
  • Decorative throws

© 2019 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 20, 2019:

Liz, Glad you like the ideas. I have an old sofa that I've tried quite a few things to keep it going. But now it's time to say goodbye. We just ordered a new one and I'm ecstatic!

Liz Westwood from UK on February 20, 2019:

These are great ideas. We once had an old sofa that was a little worse for wear. We looked in to having it reupholstered, but it did not work out a lot cheaper than buying a new one, which we decided to do in the end.